With the threat of Google looming large on both of them, Yahoo Inc and Microsoft Corp have announced a landmark agreement to connect users of their instant messaging (IM) services on a global basis.
The industry's first interoperability agreement between two distinct leading global consumer IM providers will give MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger users the ability to interact with each other, forming what is expected to be the largest consumer IM community in the world, estimated to be more than 275 million strong.
In addition to exchanging instant messages, consumers from both communities will be able to see their friends' online presence, share select emoticons, and easily add new contacts from either service to their friends' list, all as part of their free IM service.
Yahoo! and Microsoft plan to introduce these interconnectivity capabilities between MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger to customers around the world in the second quarter of 2006, and in doing so expect to help make IM an even more useful part of consumers' online communications and communities.
"Yahoo! and Microsoft share a commitment to provide the highest-quality experience possible for consumers, and this groundbreaking announcement underscores our desire to provide consumer interoperability between our thriving IM communities," Terry Semel, CEO, Yahoo! Inc said.
"This is truly a turning point for the IM industry, and we believe our agreement with Microsoft will help usher in a new era of IP communications," he added.
Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft said, "Microsoft and Yahoo! look forward to bridging the divide between our global communities, creating richer and easier ways for our customers to connect. IM interoperability is the right thing for our customers, our businesses and the industry as a whole, and Microsoft is delighted to help lead these efforts with Yahoo!"
Though Google Talk has not lived up to its expectation, but Google's plan to tie up with AOL must have sent shivers in Microsoft, who already has an alliance with the company. In the recent past, both Microsoft and Yahoo! have been engaged in a bitter war of words. The new agreement may be seen as a pre-emptive alliance between two Internet giants to counter any possible future threat from Google.